Signed Metzinger (lr); inscribed 1196/Jean Metzinger/Arelquin/oil on canvas/64 x 45 1/2; Lot 85 and again 1196 on the stretcher
Oil on canvas
63 5/8 x 44 7/8 inches (161.5 x 114 cm)
Leonce Rosenberg, Paris
Henri Benezit collection, Paris
Sale: Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, Impressionist and Modern Paintings, Sculptures, Drawings, Apr. 14, 1965, lot 40, illus.
Jean Metzinger was fascinated with the mechanical world, but his imagination took him in other directions as well. In the 1920s and 1930s he painted a number of figural works in styles of varying degrees of abstraction. An example of a painting in this mode is his monumental Arlequin, in which Harlequin, the classic trickster of the Italian commedia dell'arte, is shown at night, throwing a cloak about his shoulders as he hurriedly steps into a small boat, presumably to make his escape from a nocturnal adventure. The background is composed of pale russets and greens, against which the imposing figure of Harlequin is set. He is clearly recognizable in his traditional costume of tricorne hat, ruff collar and motley suit, here enlivened with orange reflections from his cloak. The stock characters of the Italian comedy, especially Harlequin, have fascinated many artists. Picasso is thought to have personally identified with this clever rogue, an "outsider" to society that he revisited in his art a number of times in his art. Perhaps in this essay on Harlequin, Metzinger intended to express a similar feeling of his own.
C Estate of Elsie Adler
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